Agroclimatic Zones of India

15 Agroclimatic Zones of India
An agro-climatic zone can be defined as the unit of land in terms of major climatic conditions suitbale for a certain range of crops. These conditions include solar radiation, rainfall, elevation, soil and others.

Though, there were many early attempts made to classify landmass of India into agroclimatic zones, the first serious attempt was made by VP Subhramanyam in 1956. He identified six agroclimatic zones using Koeppon's classification method. Later, A. Krishnan and Mukhtar Singh in 1969, identified eight major agroclimatic zones in India on the basis of Thornthwaite and Mather's (1955) approach.

In 1988, Planning Commission under the Agricultural Advisor to Planning Commission, SS Khanna identified 15 agro-climatic zones of India . The 15 agro-climatic zones are further subdivided into 73 subzones. There are 14 mainland zones and one other zone which include Andaman and Nicobar in Bay of Bengal. These subzones defines local or state level agro-climatic and socio-economic features.

Later, agro-climatic regions of India were again defined by National Agricultural Research Project (NARP), and they divided agro-climatic regions of India in 127 zones based on micro agro-climatic features.

15 Agroclimatic Zones of India and Their Features

1. Western Himalayas
a. It covers Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the hilly region of Uttrakhand.
b. It is divided into three subzones. First, Jammu and Kashmir; Second, Himachal Pradesh and Third; Uttrakhand.
c. The climate is cold and humid.
d. Rainfall: 100-2500 mm. The rainfall varies heavily across subzones. Lowest in Ladakh around 100 mm and Highest in Nainital around 2500 mm.
e. Soil is predominantly alluvial with low pH values and are susceptible to moderate erosion.
f. The valley floors grow rice, while the hilly tracts grow maize in the kharif season.
g. Barley, oats, and wheat are grown in rabi season.
h. It supports horticultural crops like apple, peaches, apricot, pears, cherry, almond, litchis, walnut, etc.
i. Saffron is only grown in this region.
j. Cropping intensity is lowest in Jammu and Kashmir, and highest in Himachal Pradesh.
k. The zone has a wide network of rivers and streams which offer rearing fishes and varieties suited to both warm and cold water.
l. Nearly 75% of population works in the agriculture and allied sectors.

2. Eastern Himalayas
a. This zone covers Sikkim, three districts of Darjeeling, Coochbehar and Jalpaiguri of West Bengal and the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram.
b. This zone is divided into five sub-zones namely, Himalayan Hills comprising Sikkim and Darjeeling (West Bengal); North Eastern Hills comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Assam Hills; Southern Hills comprising Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram; Central and Lower Brahmaputra Valley; and Upper Brahmaputra Valley which include Barak valley and Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar districts in West Bengal.
c. The climate of the zone varies from tropical in the plains to Alpine in the high hills
d. Rainfall: 1300-3900 mm. This area has heavy rainfall with large river basin.
e. Jhum or Shifting cultivation is practiced in one-third of the area.
f. The soil are acidic in nature and deficient in phosphorus.
g. Tea is the major cash crop of this region. Other than that spices and fruit crops such as apples, oranges, pineapple and ginger are grown in Arunachal Pradesh; orange, pineapple, banana, ginger and chillies in Meghalaya, Darjeeling and Nagaland; rubber and coffee in Assam hills. Cabbage, cauliflower, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, tapioca and sweet potatoes can be grown in all the zone.
h. It has ideal conditions for sericulture. Here four varities of silkworms being grown: Eri, Muga, Oak Tussar and Mulberry.
i. Agriculture and allied sectors provide livelihood to 70% of population.

3. Lower Gangetic Plain
a. It include major areas of West Bengal, Eastern Bihar and some parts of Brahmaputra valley.
b. IT has been divided into four subzones as: (1) Barind Plains; (2) Central Alluvial Plains; (3) Alluvial Coastal Saline Plains; and (4) Rarh Plains.
c. Rainfall: 1200-1700 mm with 80% of rainfall happen during monsoon season.
d. It has a moderate temperature with wide seasonal variations.
e. Soils in the zone vary widely. Generally, they are red loamy, alluvial and partly lateritic in the old valleys; red and yellow alluvial, red lateritic in new valleys; and deltic alluvial in the coastal area.
f. Major crops are rice, wheat, jute, mustard, potato, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
g. This zone is also known for Sericulture.
h. Around 54% of workforce work in Agriculture and related sectors.

4. Middle Gangetic Plains
a. It include major areas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
b. For effective planning of the zone, it has been divided into two main sub zones which are then divided into three zones each. Effectively saying, the region is divided in six subzones.
c. Rainfall: 1100-2100 mm.
d. Rice and maize are major kharif crops whereas wheat is the main rabi crop.
e. Fruits like litchi, guava, citrus, gooseberry (amla), pineapple and jackfruit are grown in the zone.
f. Inland fish farming is being developed here.
g. Poultry and dairy farming is also being developed here.
h. Around 70% of population work in agriculture and related sectors.

5. Upper Gangetic Plains
a. It solely contains Uttar Pradesh.
b. The zone is further divided into three subzones, namely: Central Uttar Pradesh Plain Division, North Western Uttar Pradesh Plain Division and South Western Uttar Pradesh Plain Division.
c. It includes 4 major physiographic units: Bher, Tarai and Bhabhar belt comprising of complex association of soils.
d. It is characterized by semi-desert, semi-arid and sub-humid conditions.
e. Rainfall: 800-1000 mm and most happen during monsoon season.
f. Flooding is the major problem of this zone. Around one-third of crop gets destroyed in flooding.
g. Rice, maize, bajra, jowar and arhar are major kharif crops.
h. Wheat, barley, rapeseed, mustard, potato and gram are major rabi crops.
i. The present crop rotations are: pulses-wheat, maize-wheat, rice-gram, rice-mustard, groundnut-wheat, rice-potato, and maize-mustard.
j. Mango is the main fruit crop of this region. Other fruits being grown in this region are peach, plum, pears, guava, papaya, citrus, anola, jack, litchi, ber, bael, jamun, grapes and other sub-tropical and temperate fruits.
k. Livestock and poultry are of great importance.
l. Inland fish farming is practiced in some parts of this zone.

6. Trans Gangetic Plains
a. It encompasses Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, and Shriganganagar district of Rajasthan.
b. It is being divided into three subzones.
c. It is also known as the Satluj-Yamuna Plain Zone.
d. The semi-arid conditions are seen in this zone.
e. Annual rainfall: 650-1250 mm
f. Due to well developed irrigation system, cropping intensity is highest across the country.
g. Wheat, sugarcane, cotton, rice, gram, maize, millets, pulses and oilseeds are major cash crops of this zone.
h. Mangoes, pears, grapes, peaches, guava and citrus crops are main fruit crops here.
i. The agriculture sector employs more than 60% of populace.

7. Eastern Plateau and Hills
a. It comprises of parts of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal.
b. It is the largest zone with geographical area of about 4 lakh sq. km.
c. It is also known for its high tribal population make-up.
d. The average rainfall is around 1300 mm with majority of rainfall happen between July and September.
e. The soil is slightly acidic in nature.
f. The soil is deep to very deep black with clay loam to clay texture, and have high water retention capacity.
g. Shifting cultivation is popular here.
h. Rice is the major cash crop. In lesser irrigated areas, groundnut, kodo, ragi, maize, arhar and cotton are grown in place of rice.
i. Around 85% of people work in agriculture and allied industries.

8. Central Plateau and Hills
a. It comprises of parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
b. Its climate ranges from semi arid to dry sub humid.
c. Annual rainfall: 400-1600 mm
d. Main crops are wheat, gram, bajra, rice, jowar, bajra, oilseeds, cotton and sunflower.
e. Red, yellow and black soils are predominant in this region.
f. Water scarcity is major problem in this zone.
g. The important vegetable crops are potatoes and onion.
h. The major fruits crops are guava, orange and mango.
i. Inland fisheries is being developed in parts of Madhya Pradesh.
j. It has the highest percentage of poverty both in rural and urban areas.

9. Western Plateau and Hills
a. It comprises a major part of Maharashtra state, a sizeable part of Madhya Pradesh and Jhalwar district of Rajasthan.
b. It is further subdivided into four sub zones, namely, 1. Hilly sub-zone, 2. Scarcity sub-zone, 3. Plateau sub-zone with medium black soil, and 4. Plateau sub-zone with deep black soil.
c. The major groups of the soils are deep black, medium black, shallow black, red, and lateritic.
d. Rainfall varies between 600 mm and 1040 mm.
e. A well developed irrigation system provides water throughout year.
f. The major crops of this zone are jowar, cotton, pulses, bajra and wheat.
g. Fruits such as banana, mango, citrus, cashew, pomegranate, and grapes are grown in this zone.
h. Also, vegetables like onion, bhindi, brinjal, peas, chillies are also grown here.
i. This zone is also the largest producer of spices across India.
j. The agriculture and allied sectors employ more than 70 percent of the populace.

10. Southern Plateau and Hills
a. It comprises significant areas of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
b. It has been divided into six sub zones for better managment.
c. Annual rainfall ranges between 650 mm and 1000 mm.
d. A variety of soils are found here. These soils are mainly deficient in nitrogen and potassium.
e. Coffee, tea, cardamom, and spices are major crops.
f. Mangoes, grapes, and citrus fruits are main fruit crops of this area.
g. Around 36% of people are directly working in farms and a total of 70% people are working in agro industries.

11. East Coast Plains and Hills
a. It covers a narrow strip along the Eastern Ghat and comprises parts of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry state and Tamil Nadu.
b. It is subdivided into six zones, which (1) Orissa Coastal; (2) North Coastal Andhra; (3) South Coastal Andhra; (4) North Coastal Tamil Nadu; (5) Thanjavaur; and (6) South Coastal Tamil Nadu.
c. The major soils are red lateritic soils (Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu), deltaic alluvium in Krishna and Godavari deltas, coastal sands and clay loams.
d. Rice, pulses, sugarcane, cotton and groundnut are the major crops of this region. This region contributes one-fifth of overall rice production in the country.
e. Fruits, nuts and vegetable crops are also sown here. Major fruit crops are banana, mango, and citrus fruits.
f. The average rainfall varies between 800 mm to 1300 mm.
g. Social and co-operative farming is also prevalent here.

12. West Coast Plains and Hills
a. It covers a narrow land strip along the Western Ghat and comprises parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
b. It is subdivided in 4 sub-zones: (1) Coastal Hilly; (2) Coastal Midland; (3) Midland; and (4) Hilly.
c. It has tropical climate and rainfall ranging between 1400-3400 mm.
d. It is known for coffee, tea, rubber, arecanut along wtih spices and condiments such as pepper, cloves, cardamom, ginger and turmeric.
e. Lateritic soil is prevalent with some exception here and there.
f. Forests cover in the zone accounts for 29% of total area.
g. It has a long coastline of 1320 km. So, fisheries plays an important part in this zone.
h. Around 65% of populare are working in agriculture and allied fields.

13. Gujarat Plains and Hills
a. It includes 19 districts of Gujarat.
b. It is subdivided into seven sub regions.
c. Annual rainfall ranges between 320 mm and 1500 mm with lowest rainfall in North and Coastal Gujarat and highest in Southern Gujarat.
d. Soil varies from sandy loam to silty clay.
e. Non-food crops occupies nearly fifty percent of total production.
f. The pulses, sugarcane and oilseeds, rice, bajra groundnut and cotton are major crops of this region.
g. It has 1600 km of coastline and known for large commercial fishing. omfrets, Bombay Duck, Jeu Fish, Hilsa, Shrimps are some popular fishery product from here.
h. The Government is focussing on agro-foresting and arid-horticulture to increase the productivity.

14. Western Dry Region
a. It includes nine districts of Rajasthan state viz., Barmer, Bikaner, Churn, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Nagaon and Sikar.
b. It has all the characteristics of hot desert, namely scanty and erratic rainfall, high evaporation, non-existence of perennial rivers and sparse vegetation.
c. The groundwater table is deep and often brackish.
d. The average rainfall is 95 mm.
e. The temprature ranges between -4 C (Winters) to 52 C (Summers).
f. Cereals, pulses (guar and moth) bajra, wheat, gram, rapeseed and mustard are major crops of this region.
g. The horticultural crops like water melon, guava and date palm are also grown here.
h. The social agri and dairy farming is shaping the region.

15. Islands
a. The Island zone comprises of two subzones: 1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands in Bay of Bengal and 2. Lakshadweep in Arabian Sea.
b. The average rainfall is 3000 mm in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and 1500 mm in Lakshadweep.
c. Rice is the major cash crop, but beside this fisheries plays an important role in this zone.

Need for Classifying India into various Agro-climatic Zones
a. classification makes it easier for government to come out with region specific planning.
b. helps to make a decision regarding the suitable area for planting a particular crop.
c. leads to judicial use of the land, water and other resources
d. leads to higher crop production